Monday, January 27, 2003

Maxim: Taking a Jab at Gandhi?

It must have been a slow week journalistically, if you can call Maxim a journalistic endeavor, but it seems that Maxim in its latest edition, I think in efforts to be humorous, depict a strapping man in a muscle T-shirt beating up an image of Mohandas Gandhi. Headlined "Maxim's Kick-Ass Workout," is right on that line, or maybe has crossed the fine line from humor to a little offensive. The Maxim article, attempting to show how fighting can bring fitness, calls for "a healthy regimen of violent assaults" and urges readers to "teach those pacifists a lesson about aggression." The three-page article includes 21 different scenes of the man hitting, kicking, choking and throwing Gandhi, who is named in the text, where the reader is urged to "ask Gandhi if he can see a change in your physique."

I know, I know, perhaps this was truly meant to not be offensive, and we desi's shouldn't be overly sensitive. But, I think this was done in really poor judgment, and is actually quite low class. For the longest time, Asians have allowed mainstream society to poke fun at them, the 7-11 stereotype and that really bad fake accent. The Chinese themed shirts at Abercrombie and Fitch, and just last week, controversy erupted over Shaquille O'Neal' mocking of Chinese basketball star Yao Ming, and there is never any public outcry. America tells the Asians to laugh it up, it was just jokes. But these jokes are quite insensitive, whether it be mocking a Chinese accent or portraying the beating up of one of the most amazing men of all time. I think there needs to be a change in this perception that stereotyping Asians in a certain mold is ok. For those of you who are into the Maxim-esque magazines, maybe it is time to switch from Maxim to Stuff . Here is a reproduction of the offensive image:

Additionally, the Maxim Web site does include a "Stupid Fun" article in its archives headlined, "Oh, Calcutta: Three Reasons to Hate ... Gandhi." That article, which claims Gandhi was a "lousy husband," a "rotten father" and a "poor role model," was published in November 2000.

Ironically, just two months ago, Maxim launched its first Asian edition, in Korea – just in time, Michelle Naef,administrator of the M.K. Gandhi Institute, said for the magazine to make fun of "one of the most revered men on the Asian continent."


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